Skip navigation

Making Markets Work for the Poor


Market systems approaches, or Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) are approaches to poverty reduction that donors such as DFID, Sida and SDC have been supporting over the past few years. The central idea is that the poor are dependent on market systems for their livelihoods. Therefore changing those market systems to work more effectively and sustainably for the poor will improve their livelihoods and consequently reduce poverty.

"The last few years have seen an upsurge of interest in market development approaches amongst aid agencies. Alongside M4P there is UNDP's Growing Inclusive Markets, the IADB's Opportunities for the Majority and the IFC's Next Four Billion. Amongst businesses, there is growing interest in social investment, sustainable business practices, fair trade and engaging with the Base of the (Economic) Pyramid. Although terminology and emphasis may differ, all of these approaches see a market-based economic engagement with the poor as essential for sustainable development." (M4P Synthesis, DFID/SDC).

This page provides a comprehensive introduction to a wide range of links and documents relating to Making Markets Work - in most cases, explicitly for the Poor. The DCED also co-facilitated an M4P Peer Learning Event in May 2013. This focused on six themes: designing and implementing M4P strategies, negotiating deals, team structures and capacity building, managing for impact, working in thin markets, and working alongside direct approaches. An event report with programme perspectives on the six themes is available here.

  • For documents on specific market development programmes or projects from all over the world, for all phases of the project cycle, please refer to the DCED's Value Chain Database at
  • Reports focusing on Inclusive Business Models that engage with the poor as producers and consumers can be found here. 
  • Examples of the application of the DCED's Standard for results measurement to M4P programmes can be found here

Suggestions for additions to this page are welcome at any time. Click here to contact the DCED Secretariat.

Overview and Strategy Documents

M4P in Context

This section lists resources on various M4P sub-topics, including reflections on the approach, analyses of the role of M4P for pro-poor development, and information about market development in sectors that go beyond 'core' PSD work, such as water and sanitation, health care, and environmental services.

Market approaches to social and basic service delivery

Overview documents

Several blog posts discuss the role of the private sector in the provision of basic services – such as health, education and water supply. A common thread is the argument that private providers already play a key role in providing poor people with access to basic services, and that governments can make better use of this opportunity through partnerships and appropriate policies towards private providers.


Water and Sanitation



Discussions and Proceedings

The following materials summarise discussions and proceedings of workshop, seminars and other events on M4P.

Design and Implementation

This section lists generic documents on the design and implementation of M4P programmes. It includes value chain analysis guides, which exemplify the application of an M4P lens to value chain analysis.

M4P Programmes and Case Studies

Below you can find case studies and overviews of selected M4P programmes and projects. For more comprehensive programme- and project-specific information, please refer to

Ongoing programmes

Older programme summaries and case studies

** These case studies form part of a series prepared primarily by the Springfield Centre, on behalf of the Fauno Consortium for the Employment and Income Division of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation(SDC).

2nd Image courtesy of  djembe / 123RF Stock Photo; 3rd image courtesy of Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi.